Globe asks LGUs to ease fees, expedite permits for cell towers

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Globe Telecom president and CEO Ernest Cu appealed over the weekend to local government units to rationalize fees and expedite the processing of permits to allow the local telcos to build the infrastructure needed to improve connectivity in the country.

Photo shows Globe CEO Ernest Cu during his meeting with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacanang on Thursday, July 30

The call comes at the heels of his face-to-face meeting with Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in Malacañang last July 30 to inform the president of the telco industry’s challenges.

“Each year, we make massive investments in billions of pesos to make our network perform at par with other countries. However, we can only go as far as what our existing infrastructure can give. If we want robust connectivity we really need to build more cellsites and roll out more fiber to homes. The current permitting process and fee structures simply do not allow us to do these,” Cu said.

“This is a time when all industry stakeholders need to work together for the benefit of the consuming public. Connectivity is now an essential need especially during this pandemic. Let’s turn a new leaf and help enable the industry to build.”

In the meeting with Duterte, Cu sought the help of the chief executive regarding the debilitating process of getting permits to build cellsites and towers which takes at least eight months.

The Globe CEO showed the president and other officials present at the meeting the numerous permits Globe needed to secure to build a cell site tower – 29 to 35 permits in all.

This resulted in the Duterte’s instruction to his Cabinet officials to “take the most drastic measure you can find” to fast-track the processing of telco infrastructure permits.

Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) secretary Eduardo Año informed Duterte that the recently signed Joint Memorandum Circular (JMC) No. 01-2020 from concerned government agencies will make the issuance of permits a lot easier, with streamlining of permits to reduce processing time to a maximum of 20 days.

“We thank President Duterte for giving us the opportunity to present our predicament, and for his swift action on our problem with tedious LGU permits for the construction of our cell sites. We are hopeful that we can get more cooperation from LGUs and HOAs (homeowner associations). As Filipinos adapt to the new normal, having ample ICT infrastructure is particularly important to improve Internet speed, increase coverage and capacity for data hungry customers. In addition, having many cellsites is critical to successfully roll out advanced technologies like 5G services in the country,” Cu said.

For the longest time, Globe said the telco industry’s bid to expand and put up needed broadband infrastructures have been slowed down if not totally prevented by permitting requirements imposed by LGUs as well as the opposition by hostile homeowners associations.

This was further compounded by network build disruptions given the stringent restrictions under an enhanced community quarantine, which started to ease in June when construction activities were allowed to restart, it said.

Davao representative Jericho Nograles in a recent interview said LGUs do not allow cellsite build-ups due to health hazards, which has not been substantiated with scientific documents or findings. Homeowners’ associations on the other hand disallow building of cellsites in their areas because they are unsightly.

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